US ambassador to UN offers condemnation of Russian actions

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday condemned Russia for its attacks on civilians in Ukraine and its alleged use of cluster munitions and vacuum bombs — lethal weaponry that could lead to wide civilian casualties.

“We have seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine which has no place on the battlefield,” the U.S. envoy to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the General Assembly.

“That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, which are banned under the Geneva Convention.”

Thomas-Greenfield’s warning at the U.N. came as the 193-member body is set to vote on a resolution censuring Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

Russia vetoed a resolution in the U.N. Security Council on Friday condemning its actions. 

Thomas-Greenfield echoed allegations leveled by Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova to American lawmakers on Monday that Russia was using in its attacks on Ukraine a thermobaric weapon, known as a vacuum bomb.

A thermobaric weapon creates a blast wave of extreme pressure and heat, often targeted against enclosed spaces in urban warfare. It has the potential to inflict severe casualties because of its indiscriminate and uncontained nature. Reuters reports that the bomb is capable of vaporizing human bodies. 

Cluster bombs are another devastating munition given their potential to harm and kill indiscriminately. The bomb itself is dropped from the air and opens to disperse smaller bombs that disperse over a large area and have the potential to cause greater destruction. 

U.S. officials and lawmakers have warned that Russia is escalating its violence in Ukraine, with hundreds of civilians, including children, killed in attacks. Russia has been criticized for targeting hospitals and civilian infrastructure including communication networks. 

Thomas-Greenfield’s alarm at the U.N. General Assembly over the vacuum bombs and cluster munitions also speaks to the Biden administration’s strategy to declassify intelligence to warn of Russia’s actions before they take place and unite countries around the world in isolating Moscow.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken largely laid out on Feb. 17 at the United Nations how Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to justify and launch an invasion against Ukraine, which played out almost exactly as described beginning on Feb. 24.

Tags Antony Blinken Linda Thomas-Greenfield Russia Ukraine United Nations Vladimir Putin

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